Solid Play Doesn't Translate to Victory For BYU Volleyball
PROVO -- In spite of a night of season-high individual performances and impressive statistical play, the BYU women’s volleyball team suffered another loss Thursday night in the Smith Fieldhouse where the Cougars faced the Aztecs of SDSU. The match ended after four sets, handing a 3-1 win to the Aztecs (25-20; 27-25; 19-25; 27-25). The Cougars are now 9-6 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West Conference.
“We actually improved in some key areas, but we made critical mistakes at critical times,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding. “We’re a talented team, but we still have yet to dial it in.”
Out-playing SDSU in kills (64-60), hitting percentage (.265 -.240), digs (55-53) and blocks (10-9), BYU still managed to avoid a win, although quality of play was definitely an improvement from previous matches. The Cougars’ Kiana Rogers had a season-high 58 assists, more than the Aztecs’ entire team put together, while Ashton Hosford and Rachel Dyer had season-high numbers for kills with 11 and 12, respectively. Bryn Porter led BYU with 17 winners.
Thursday’s match also marked the third time this season that four Cougars have posted double-digit kills and Kayla Walker’s third double-double of the year. SDSU made plays where it counted, however, and proved that statistics alone don’t win games.
The Aztecs started quickly in the first set with a seven-point streak, securing a lasting lead. After reaching a 11-point advantage, their defense became their main weapon with sophomore Bailee Hellwig’s three blocks. The Cougars came alive with the help of Porter, who posted five kills and led the offense in its comeback. Fighting for the lead, BYU eventually brought the 11-point difference down to four as the Cougar offense statistically out-played that of SDSU. In the end, it wasn’t enough to overtake the initial lead of the Aztecs, who won 25-20.
Set two was a battle from start to finish, with SDSU having the lead only twice in the game – at 21-20 and then at the final scores of 26-25 and 27-25. BYU managed to stay on top with 17 kills as a team but lost momentum when the Aztecs rallied toward the finish. Somehow with only one team block and a bleak hitting percentage of .180, SDSU came out on top with a score of 27-25.
The Cougars came back in set three, which seemed to be the turning point of the match. They turned up the heat and had a .520 hitting percentage – due in large part to Malia Marquardt’s 1.000, Kayla Walker’s .600, and Hosford’s and Kiana Rogers’ .500 in the set. Each team was trading point-for-point until the Cougars forged ahead with a five-point streak to land at a score of 17-12. From there the Aztecs struggled to keep up and eventually fell to the Cougars, 25-19.
The final set seemed to be in BYU’s favor, but ended similarly to sets one and two. The Cougars were on top for a majority of the set but were unable to overcome various errors and the 17 kills and 15 digs of the Aztecs. With an opportunity to go to set five within reach and a score of 24-23, SDSU’s Kyley Sexton chalked up three consecutive kills to secure the win for the Aztecs.
BYU’s next match will be Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse against UNLV. It will be broadcast on BYUTV.
Two Home Matches Up Next For BYU
PROVO -- After playing 10 of its first 14 matches on the road this season, the BYU women’s volleyball team (9-5, 2-3 MWC) returns to the Smith Fieldhouse for a two-week homestand beginning with matches on Thursday against San Diego State and on Saturday against UNLV. Both contests will begin at 7 p.m. and be broadcast live on BYU-TV.
“We are regrouping after our past road trip and look forward to meeting UNLV and SDSU in the Smith Fieldhouse this weekend,” said BYU head coach Shay Goulding.
The Cougars had a disappointing road swing last week as they were swept at New Mexico and TCU. Senior middle blocker Rachel Dyer led the way for the Cougars in both matches with seven kills in each. Sophomore libero Melissa Lake was a bright spot for BYU in her second week of action as the starting libero. She tallied 14 digs at UNM and 15 at TCU, tying for match-high honors, while averaging 4.83 digs per set on the weekend.
Despite the rough weekend, the Cougars still have plenty to smile about, both individually and as a team. BYU is ranked 15th nationally in blocks per set with 2.76, a number bolstered by Ashton Hansen Hosford and Dyer, who rank 16th and 68th, respectively, in that category. The Cougars are also looking forward to playing five of their next seven matches at home, where their attendance average ranks 32nd nationally.
The San Diego State Aztecs are 4-10 overall and 1-3 in Mountain West Conference play with a win at Air Force. SDSU has suffered defeat against New Mexico, TCU and UNLV in league action. The Aztecs are led by all-around contributor Lauren Salisbury. The sophomore middle blocker ranks fourth in the league in kills (3.25), third in hitting percentage (.349), third in points (3.96) and ninth in blocks (1.08). In MWC play, her blocking tally jumps to 1.69, which is second in the conference. BYU is 36-16 all-time against the Aztecs after sweeping the season series last year.
The UNLV Rebels are 10-7 overall this season and 3-1 in Mountain West Conference play with wins over TCU, Air Force and San Diego State and their lone loss coming against New Mexico. Junior outside hitter Jessica Walters leads the team and ranks second in the MWC with 3.48 kills per set, which helps her come in sixth in the league with 3.67 points per set. Senior libero Camille Cunningham paces the conference with 5.24 digs per set, which also ranks 11th nationally. As a team, the Rebels are 32nd nationally with 12.57 digs per set. BYU owns a 21-4 all-time record against the Rebels.
In addition to live coverage on BYU-TV, both matches will also be available on BYU All-Access and GameTracker. Links to these options can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU women’s volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/Schedule.jsp?SP=202.